Pauling, Linus Carl

Pauling, Linus Carl pôˈlĭng [key], 1901–94, American chemist, b. Portland, Oreg. He was one of the few recipients of two Nobel Prizes, winning the chemistry award in 1954 and the peace prize in 1962. His scientific career centered around the California Institute of Technology, where he received his doctorate in 1925 and became professor of chemistry in 1931 after a period of study abroad with Arnold Sommerfeld, Niels Bohr, and Erwin Schrödinger. He was among the first to apply the quantum theory to calculations of molecular structures; his book The Nature of the Chemical Bond (1939, 3d ed. 1960) is still the classic in the field. He developed the concept of resonance to explain covalent bonds in certain organic compounds (see chemical bond). His later work concerned molecular biology; using physical techniques, he determined the three-dimensional structures of many antitoxins, amino acids, and proteins. He was the first recipient of two honors awarded by the American Chemical Society: the Langmuir prize (1931) and the Lewis medal (1951). Outside of his scientific work, Pauling took a vital interest in public affairs, especially the movement for world disarmament. His No More War (1958) was a plea for international peace. In addition to receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, he was among seven awarded the 1968–69 International Lenin Peace Prize. He also championed the use of large quantities (megadoses) of vitamin C for controlling the common cold and the use of chemotherapy in general for the cure of mental diseases such as schizophrenia.

See T. Hager, Force of Nature: The Life of Linus Pauling (1995); T. Goertzel and B. Goertzel, Linus Pauling: A Life in Science and Politics (1995); B. Marinacci, ed., Linus Pauling in His Own Words (1995).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Chemistry: Biographies